Jan 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Nik Stauskas (11) brings the ball up court against the Michigan State Spartans during the 1st half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan -- Preview

GBMWolverine Basketball TidbitsPosted at 8:00am — 2/23/2014

Michigan Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan — Preview


In league play, the second time around is many times different. With the UM-MSU match-up there is one obvious similarity: both teams have three league loses. The two big differences are the return of big man Adreian Payne and the decreased offensive output of Michigan. Hopefully, Michigan’s intensity returns since there is little doubt the Spartans will come to town looking for not only a win but also a beat-down.

Nov 8, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans center Adreian Payne (5) shoots in front of McNeese State Cowboys forward Adrian Fields (20) in the second half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU won 98-56. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Dawson has been ruled out and Appling is questionable. Appling could play, but his wrist looks to be one of those injuries that needs time and rest to heal.

Payne’s return gives Michigan State two advantages. First, the Spartans will be an improved team regarding both inside scoring and rebounding. Second, his presence offers better opportunities for Michigan State’s outside shooters.

In the first match-up Michigan did very well inside and the offense flowed smoothly. Tough Iowa and Indiana defenses have provided blueprints for opponents to disrupt Michigan’s offense.

So, how will this game turn out in a league where teams are playing out the yin-yang model of yo-yo ism?

Michigan will need to be prepared to go to several offensive options, not just Stauskas. Walton Jr. may be Michigan’s wild card. If Robinson and Stauskas both get shut down, MSU will almost certainly walk out with a clear victory.

Michigan State pounded 17 three-pointers down the nets against Purdue. Hopefully the Spartans will return toward the mean. How Michigan chooses to defend Payne will probably help to determine how much pressure the perimeter defense can muster. Michigan did some nice double-teaming at MSU. Michigan has no one who can take on Payne for an entire game, but may have just enough to take a few fouls in the second half to slow Payne down. Look for Michigan to again try to limit first half fouls. Centers have had no difficulty gaining easy inside position, and Payne may be the strongest center Horford and Morgan see all year.

The transition game of MSU is still dynamite, and one little lazy microsecond can lead to a transition score, even after a made basket. There will be no time for laziness or theatrics.

Lazy passes and standing around on offense will continue Michigan’s offensive inefficiency if allowed. There need be no talk of needing rest, play ‘til you drop. Get ready for 40 minutes of nastiness. Move, do not stand around on offense or refuse to move the feet on defense!

Mental toughness and poise will be guided by raw willpower Sunday. MSU has the reputation for toughness, but Michigan has shown very good resiliency after bad performances.

Feb 16, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Caris LeVert (23) dribbles the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers at Crisler Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Harris and Payne are two of the league’s best five players and Appling is perhaps more valuable than some realize. Dawson was the glue that put the inside game together and will be missed. For Michigan there is no guaranteed lock player on offense as with Harris and Payne. But Michigan can have several guys step up to the plate. Tomorrow it may be Irvin. But it seems he must hit at least one of his first two shots or the microwave shuts down. Walton Jr. has shown no lack of courage taking on the big moment at the right moment. One positive, Caris LeVert will be willing to test the scoring waters; he who loves offense and shooting. Caris could cause MSU more problems than Stauskas or Robinson. The truth is Caris has played his best overall ball the last few weeks.

Finally, there is the question of Michigan’s defense. MSU will use the transition game and the standard inside outside game to test Michigan. Harris will test the guards’ ability to stop the middle penetration; a scary thought. Michigan puts itself at a disadvantage by playing a small lineup that sometimes overcomes deficiencies at the defensive end. But, big or small Michigan does not show consistent effort or technique on defense. There is little chance Michigan plays two bigs against MSU, and if so there may be more disadvantages with such a set up than advantages. Intensity is only one element of defense, but for this game, the element of intensity may be the starting point.

The prediction is if MSU walks out of Crisler with a win. Everyone else is playing for second place. But this has been a strange year in the league and general predictions have brought about some leaks.

Go Blue.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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